I forgot. Of course the Witch’s magic isn’t a serious obstacle in the face of Aslan – it’s the Deep Magic. Specifically, the power the Witch is granted as the Accuser (or “hangman”, as Mr. Beaver puts it). Whenever there is treachery, she must have blood for it, and Edmund unfortunately fits the bill. As soon as she realizes that the rest of his siblings are well on their way to Cair Paravel, the Witch changes tactics, instead figuring on killing Edmund as a traitor and hoping that the prophecy wouldn’t work properly without him. He’s rescued before she can actually go through with it, but she’s still confident that the Law is on her side.
Aslan has a nice long chat with Edmund after his rescue, and from that point on he’s clearly changed for the better, even if his previous actions couldn’t be undone.
As the others drew nearer Aslan turned to meet them, bringing Edmund with him.
“Here is your brother,” he said, “and – there is no need to talk to him about what is past.”
Edmund shook hands with each of the others and said to each of them in turn, “I’m sorry,” and everyone said, “That’s all right.” And then everyone wanted very hard to say something which would make it quite clear that they were all friends with him again – something ordinary and natural – and of course no one could think of anything in the world to say.
Of course the Witch comes around to lay her claim on Edmund’s life, and I was actually reminded of the scene in the Bible where Satan comes to God to haggle about Job (except Edmund is basically the opposite of a “righteous man”). It’s very Old Testament, at any rate. It’s quite obvious that the White Witch is the only one who even cares about his treachery at this point, and that’s hardly because it hurt her personally. No, she just wants to destroy Edmund, and she aims to do so by labeling him with that one sin which everyone is painfully aware of – Traitor.
“Oh, Aslan!” whispered Susan in the Lion’s ear, “can’t we – I mean, you won’t, will you? Can’t we do something about the Deep Magic? Isn’t there something you can work against it?”
“Work against the Emperor’s Magic?” said Aslan, turning to her with something like a frown on his face. And nobody ever made that suggestion to him again.
Because the Law cannot simply be ignored or undone – when blood is required, blood must be paid. You can’t help but feel sorry for Edmund at this point, though, as he’s sitting around waiting for the verdict with his own life at stake.
Edmund was on the other side of Aslan, looking all the time at Aslan’s face. He felt a choking feeling and wondered if he ought to say something; but a moment later he felt that he was not expected to do anything except to wait, and do what he was told.
In the end, the Witch renounces her claim on Edmund, but it’s quite clear that she’s pleased with the result of her haggling.
Next time: The Triumph of the Witch